Category Archives: Cooking

Homemade Pancetta

Now that summer has come to a close, my family takes to the kitchen to stock up for winter. Blueberry jam, cranberry marmalade, crabapple sauce are some of what we use with our annual harvest, but lately my dad’s been experimenting with bacon and pancetta.

If you haven’t been introduced to my father, he is the owner of Sausage Mania, a website with thorough tutorials on sausage making, lox, pesto and more. Here’s a photo of the Sausage Meister in action:

He hasn’t added pancetta to his site yet so I thought I’d take this opportunity to post on his behalf.

Continue reading Homemade Pancetta

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Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing

Tonight was supposed to be leftovers night, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to cook something using the ingredients on hand. We had leftover chili and tortillas so I decided on chili enchiladas. That’s a heavy dish and as with most Mexican-style dishes I never know what type of vegetable to serve on the side. Broccoli? Cole slaw? Naw.

I rifled through the fridge and found an English cucumber, feta and some limes. I had chickpeas in the pantry. Yes….this could be something.

This salad was the perfect palate cleanser to the heavy enchiladas. The bright lime dressing cut through the spicy, cheesy sauce and left me licking the salad bowl.

You can opt to not fry the chickpeas, but that added crispiness was a wonderful touch.

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing | a recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing

Serves 4

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing | a recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 english cucumber, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3+ tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup feta crumbles
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Coat the bottom of a medium sauté pan with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Heat over high flame. Remove as much moister as possible from the chickpeas by putting them in a salad spinner.

When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas to the pan and fry them for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and crispy. Turn off heat and let chickpeas cool.

In a medium bowl, add the cucumbers, green onion, cilantro and feta.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When chickpeas are cool, add to the rest of the salad. Just before serving, whisk the dressing together and toss into the salad.

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing | a recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Weeknight alphabet vegetable soup

When was the last time you had alphabet soup? Now that I think of it, I can’t remember ever having it, yet I always see the cute bag of dried alphabet pasta at the grocery store and think about making it.

My 5-year-old son has been showing an interest in cooking lately so we went to the library last week to check out kids cookbooks. One of the recipes was a tomato-based alphabet soup. He really wanted me to make it.

Fast forward to 4:30 p.m. today when I was driving home with zero plans for dinner. Thankfully I had already done the shopping for this meal. It came together in a jiffy!

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

This soup is packed with flavor and nutrition. The reason for the flavor? Pancetta and parmesan rind. Both add wonderful depth to the soup.

I also made chicken meatballs and dropped those in while cooking. I didn’t include the recipe for those, but you could use Italian sausage or any meatball recipe you prefer.

The verdict? My son and husband gobbled up this soup! Plus, we all had fun trying to spell words in our bowls. So much fun.

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Alphabet soup with vegetables

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 oz. pancetta, diced small
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4-5 leaves of swiss chard, chopped
  • 1, 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1.5 cups frozen green beans
  • 1 chunk of parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can of canellini beans, liquid reserved
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 oz. dried alphabet pasta, or small pasta of your choice
  • 1 pound of meatballs or Italian sausage

Directions:

Add a little olive oil to a large dutch oven and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the pancetta and sauté until cooked but not browned. Add the onion, carrots, chard and celery and cook till onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, beef stock, chicken stock, bay leaf, garlic powder, oregano, basil pepper flakes, parmesan rind and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Cover, bring to a simmer and turn heat to medium-low. Add raw sausage or meatballs and simmer, partially uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Add the frozen green beans and return to a simmer for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the beans and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid. Whisk the flour into the bean liquid and add this to the soup to thicken it slightly.

Add the beans and pasta to the soup and simmer for 7 minutes or until pasta is done.

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Serve with generous amounts of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Alphabet vegetable soup is a crowdpleaser - and it's good for you too! Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

 

Perfect stuffed mushrooms

The best stuffed mushrooms | a simple recipe from alaskaknitnat.com
Photo Credit: Stacy Spensley Flickr via Compfight cc

Perfect stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 carton of Costco baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup panko flakes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Chop stems finely and mix with the onions. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions until the liquid has been drawn out of the mushrooms and the onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool in a mixing bowl.

In the same pan, add another tablespoon of butter and stir in the panko flakes. Sauté until the flakes are lightly browned, about two minutes. Place flakes in the mixing bowl with mushrooms and onions.

In the same pan add the loose sausage (remove from casings if necessary). Cook until meat is browned, about 7 minutes. Place the meat on a cutting board and chop finely. Add to the mixing bowl.

Toss in the Parmesan, parsley and cream cheese and mix thoroughly (hands are best). Add salt and pepper.

Stuff each mushroom with a heaping amount of filling and place on a baking sheet. Top with more grated Parmesan.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Quick dinner: creamy pesto with chicken

Pesto. I love pesto. I’m a traditionalist and tend to prepare it in the classic Genovese way but recently a friend told me his method, with cream and white wine, and I thought I’d try it.

I loved it! Pesto can sometimes have an overpowering garlic taste (it does contain raw garlic) so this version provides the flavor of pesto but is a little smoother.

If you use the Costco basil pesto then it’s a super quick meal, just perfect for a weeknight.

Looking for a flavorful weeknight meal? Try this simple creamy pesto with chicken from Alaskaknitnat.com

Weeknight meal: creamy pesto with chicken

Ingredients:

Looking for a flavorful weeknight meal? Try this simple creamy pesto with chicken from Alaskaknitnat.com

  • 1 lb. spaghettini
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2/3 cup pesto
  • 3/4 pound leftover rotisserie chicken, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon (optional)

Looking for a flavorful weeknight meal? Try this simple creamy pesto with chicken from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high flame. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat. Add the wine and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the pesto and chicken.

Drain the pasta. Add to the sauté pan and toss till evenly coated with sauce. Add salt and pepper. Squeeze a lemon over the top. Serve with a side salad.

Chicken lasagna with artichokes and white sauce

Every once in a while I have the wherewithal to make lasagna with homemade noodles. This evening I decided to try something different. Instead of traditional red sauce and ricotta I made a creamy béchamel sauce and layered the spinach noodles with shredded chicken and marinated artichoke hearts. The marinade from the artichokes added a tangy flavor to the dish and the creamy sauce was pure deliciousness. You can of course use store-bought noodles, but there’s something fancy about fresh pasta.

Chicken lasagna with artichokes | the perfect Sunday dinner from alaskaknitnat.com

Continue reading Chicken lasagna with artichokes and white sauce

Poblanos with corn and cream

Every year my family takes a trip down to Nayarit, Mexico to my parents’ vacation home, Casa Colibrí. Their housekeeper, Moña, is an expert cook and I look forward to her authentic Mexican dishes every time we visit.

I have tried to replicate several of her recipes in the past, including fried cauliflower and guacamole. I’ve attempted other dishes but there’s something about the fresh ingredients of Mexico that I am unable to replicate many of her recipes.

Here is one more attempt at one of her classic dishes, chiles rajados con elote y crema, or in English, sliced chiles with corn and cream. In Mexico, crema is a thick consistency, almost like yogurt or sour cream, but with a sweet cream taste. I’d say crème fraîche is the closest thing here in the states, but I have a hard time finding that in Anchorage, so I’m trying it with heavy cream.

Moña serves this for breakfast or lunch. It can accompany fried eggs or rice. It’s a versatile dish that’s got a slight amount of heat, which is mellowed out by the sweetness of the corn and cream.

Poblanos with corn and cream | An authentic Mexican dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken or vegetable bullion
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Poblanos with corn and cream | An authentic Mexican dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Slice the peppers into strips and remove the seeds and pith. Add oil to a pan and heat over medium-high flame. Sauté the peppers and onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the corn and cream and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the bullion. Turn heat down and simmer for a few minutes until sauce has thickened slightly. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve. 

Poblanos with corn and cream | An authentic Mexican dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com